Partnerships between environmental NGOs and corporate giants have become increasingly popular over the past few years, but analysts argue that instead of promoting environmentally friendly living, such relationships only boost production and consumption, while weaken the power and influence of environmental activism.
In an article published in The Conversation earlier this week, Genevieve LeBaron has investigated whether the green agenda of big corporate giants and their partnerships with environmental NGOs contributes to protecting nature, or it is simply a way to sell more of their not-so-green products with a ‘Save the Planet’ label.
Over the past few years we kept hearing of new alliances made between companies and environmental organizations such as WWF and even Greenpeace. Not long ago, Greenoptimistic reported on Coca-cola funding WWF in their campaign to save polar bears, and this is not the only initiative of this kind. McDonalds is teaming up with the Environmental Defense Fund to promote sustainable packaging, Greenpeace is partnering with Unilever and Coca-cola to encourage green refrigeration technology, even the biggest oil and gas drillers, Chesapeake Energy and British Petroleum are giving millions to conservation networks to ensure “sustainable drilling”.
But where is all of this leading to? Market-friendly eco-labeling and eco-certification has not promoted green living. In the case of Coca-cola, for example, the cute white polar bear on the label has boosted the sale of coke cans incredibly, resulting in more than a billion cans being sold. Another similar example is the case of the Sierra Club, an organization advocating ecological preservation. They have rented the club’s logo to Clorox for better marketing of green cleaning products, and in return they get a percentage of the profit.
The result is encouraging unsustainable consumption and production patterns, with some increase in revenue of environmental organizations. Yes, some of these initiatives improve the ecological footprint of the products, but as sustainable packaging or removal of illegal Indonesian paper fiber from doll boxes hit the news, sales jump sky-high.
Although quite a number of environmental activists resist the temptation to join forces with the giants, these do not have it easy, especially if they are involved in direct actions.